The Second Sunday after Epiphany
January 19, 2020 A+D
St. John 2:1-11
In the Name of the Father and of the X Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
As St. John states, this is the first miracle which our dear Lord Jesus performed on earth, a miracle whereby He wanted to manifest His glory to His disciples. They are to recognize from this miracle that He is the Son of God and the true Messiah, since He is able to do what no other human being is able to do, namely, alter the nature of created things by changing water into wine. Such power belongs solely to God, the creator of heaven and earth. Many Old Testament prophets performed miracles in the eyes of the people: Moses parted the Red Sea, Elijah stopped the rain for three years, Elisha raised a dead boy, Isaiah prayed for the sun to move backwards. But in none of those miracles did it manifest the prophet’s glory. The Old Testament miracles were always to show God’s glory and power and faithfulness. Something new is happening in Cana. A Man is working miracles in order to manifest His own glory, because this Man is God. He is the Lord. He is Yahweh. This God-man, through His miracles proves that He is the promised Messiah.
This miracle, therefore, serves chiefly to teach us who Christ is, and to prompt us to seek His help and mercy with confidence whenever we’re in need. And it also teaches us that He will supply it at the proper time, in His own time, not in ours.
This is what His mother learned that day. His hand cannot be forced.[i] “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” This is reminiscent of when Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the Temple after searching for Him for three days. At that time, 12 year-old Jesus said, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” He rebuked both Mary and Joseph. They did not understand the statement which He spoke to them; but He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject to them; AND His mother kept all these things in her heart (Luke 2:49-51).
Up to this point, Mary kept many marvelous these things in her heart, 1. The words of the Angel announcing that she would give birth to God; 2. The worship and adoration of the Shepherds in Bethlehem, 3. The gifts and worship of the Wisemen; 4. The prophesies of Simeon and Anna at the purification in the temple; and 5. The account of 12 year-old Jesus in the Temple. Now Jesus is an adult, a grown man, and Mary has seen this sinless God-man increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52). So, at the wedding, she chooses to speak up when they ran out of wine.[ii]
And even though she is rebuked, her words following ring true for us today. “Whatever He says to you, do it.” We should hang on every Word that Jesus says. We should listen to and obey every Word that comes from His mouth. And we should wait in faith for His hour to come for us.
While we wait, we take our cue from Mary. We ponder His Words in our hearts. We wait in faith knowing that God is good, that God is true, that God is righteous. Mary’s is a life of faith. This rebuke serves as a reminder for her that she is to believe, to trust, and to wait. Life is a gift from God, and He will provide all things that we need. She has no right to complain. The rebuke is serious. The rebukes of Our Lord always are. But, nonetheless, at least she recognized that He was the only One who could help. In the midst of her questions, her doubt, and even at her times of despair, she had faith.
Questions, doubts, and even despair are parts of the life of faith on this side of glory. The old man needs the Law to knock him down and accuse him so that he might be drowned and die with all sin and evil desires. Those evil desires cause us to contradict God’s goodness, to doubt it, and to apologize for His thoughts and His ways when they are different than ours. When the Law kills this old man inside us, the Gospel elevates the new man; the Gospel brings us Christ, our new man, to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. A rebuke is not damnation. The Law does not kill in order to harm us, but to purify us, to strengthen our faith in the only one who can save from the Law’s condemnation and our earthly troubles. The Lord chastises those whom He loves. He rebukes Mary that she might repent. He rebukes you in your sin that you might repent. It works. The Law and suffering make way for a stronger faith by making way for the Gospel.
Notice that He did not promise a thing in His rebuke of her, but still she believes. She knows and trusts that He is God. She remembers that all things are possible for Him. She knows that whatever happens, whether they have wine or not, that He will do what needs to be done. He won’t be indecisive or slow. He will do the thing that needs to be done at the right time. He has proved to her His whole life that this is so, and she believes it. He is God. He is the Messiah. He has come to save her. That is what matters.
“Do whatever Jesus tells you” is always good advice and believing it and doing it is a true confession of faith. And in His time, He relents. He makes glad the hearts of men. He brings joy from sadness, hope from dejection, wine from water; and He makes Christians out of unbelievers. He is the Creator present in His creation to recreate it, to restore it, to redeem it!
So what are you to do? Pray. Ask God to intervene. Believe in His promise to hear and answer your prayer. Mary petitioned Jesus to make more wine for those who were already well drunk. How much more should you pray when finances are scarce, or your doctor gives you a worrisome diagnosis, or your job is threatened, or you are concerned for your children, or you are scared for your future? How often have you complained against God that you were not richer, healthier, or more stable? How often have you succumbed to the lies of the old man that say “God cannot or will not help?”
Repent, and know that He is good. He is the Messiah come to save. John gives us big hint within this Gospel text about the goodness of God (and it’s not just more wine at weddings). It was the third day. The third day always brings with it perfection and completion. For it was on another third day that His hour would be completed, accomplished, finished. His hour is the time when the sun went dark, the earth shook, when He cried out “It is finished, and gave up His spirit. His hour is the hour He submitted to the death that Adam and we all deserved, so that Adam, Eve, and their sinful descendants might live. He overcame His hour. He conquered. He rose from the dead. That was the third day, the eighth day, the everlasting day. He lives never to die again. And He brings you into this eternal, divine life by making you His holy precious bride.
If He loved you so much that He died for you without you asking. He will answer your prayers and even give you things for which you failed to pray. He makes glad the hearts of men. He gives wine in abundance. He knows what you need. He knows your heart’s desire. He knows what is best. In His hour you will have joy in sadness, comfort in hardship, and life through death. Remain patient in faith, O bride of Christ.
At this wedding in Cana, He manifested His glory by turning water into wine. But today, in this, His hour for you, He makes bread into His own body and wine into His own blood. By partaking of this banquet, you proclaim His hour until He comes. This is the wedding feast that makes us partakers of the feast that will have no end. This miracle this morning, this Sacrament of the Lord’s body and blood brings you into fellowship with Your Divine Lord and your Christian brothers and sisters. This meal manifests the glory of the Lord even more than that glory in Cana.
Lord, come quickly and gather us together in the eternal wedding banquet of heaven.
In Jesus X Name. Amen.
[i] See Gerhard’s sermon on this text, p. 158.
[ii] According to Gerhard the rebuke is to inform Mary that although Jesus is obedient to her as a son, the Christ in His office of mediator between God and men is not subject to her authority. P. 158.